Competition the Key at NCAA Prelims
May 23, 2012
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It's a different kind of collegiate track and field meet.
Eight student-athletes will represent Maryland this weekend at the 2012 NCAA East Preliminaries with berths at stake for the national championships. But when they line up to compete in their event, times, heights and distances will be less important than place.
From a field of 48 competitors in each event, the top 12 will advance to the nationals. Maryland head coach Andrew Valmon said the format of this meet brings out the competitor in an athlete.
"In its purest sense, it's the competition that matters," said Valmon, who in a month will be the men's head coach for Team USA at the London Olympics. "It's what we've talked about in practice in that it's head-to-head competition. We're a large region with large fields. A lot depends on how the individuals prepare for their competitions.
"As an athlete, you really have to dot your `I's' and cross your `T's'. Larger fields mean you have to think about things like timing your warmups and your preparation for events, which last a lot longer."
Senior Ashley Cromartie was added to the field in the women's steeplechase after some athletes scratched out of the competition. Three-time All-American Kiani Profit has qualified for the national field in the heptathlon, a combined-event competition which is not held at the preliminary level.
The competition runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the University of North Florida. Technically, the competition serves as the first two rounds of the national championships in all events except the heptathlon, decathlon and the 10,000-meter runs.
The West preliminaries are held this weekend in Austin, Texas, with the top 12 finishers in each prelim making up the 24-athlete fields for the nationals, to be held June 6 to 9 in Des Moines, Iowa.
MARYLAND QUALIFIERS FOR NCAA DIVISION I CHAMPIONSHPS
Ashley Cromartie (Senior, Flanders, N.J.)
Women's 3,000 Steeplechase - Friday, 9:30 p.m.
Has set school record twice this season in the steeplechase, with best of 10:34.62 coming with a 4th-place finish at the ECAC Championships... Finished 10th at ACC Outdoor with her 10:39.44 then besting the old mark of 10:41.7 set by Kristin Reed in 2009... Also on 10th on Terps' outdoor list in 1,500 with 4:31.31 at 2011 ACC Outdoor... Three heats of 16 in national quarterfinal, with top 3 per heat and next 3 fastest times advancing to 24-person semifinal at nationals.
Jessie Echard (Senior, Fairfax, Va.)
Women's Hammer - Saturday, 2 p.m.
Season-best of 184-4 came in first meet of outdoor season with 2nd-place finish at UCF Invitational... All-ACC with 3rd-place finish this season at outdoor championships... Has four marks of 179-10 or better... Kehoe Twilight champion... T2nd with teammate Moriah Young on Maryland's all-time list behind only Aysha Gregory (185-6 in 2008)... Seeded 35th in East Region... In first of three flights of 16, seeded lowest-to-highest... Three throws for each competitor in flights with top 16 overall advancing to three-attempt final... Top 12 overall advance to 24-person final at nationals.
Jon Hill (Junior, Walkersville, Md.)
Men's High Jump - Saturday, 5 p.m.
Had career-best of 7-2.25 to win the IC4A Outdoor Championship earlier this month... Mark ranks 6th all-time on Maryland's outdoor list, with only two of those marks coming since 1987... Finished 3rd at ACC Outdoor at 7-1.50... Has five first-place finishes, including College Division at Penn Relays... Seven marks over 7 feet this season... Seeded T15th in East Region, T22nd nationally... 48 competitors in national semifinals jump in two pits in Jacksonville... Opening height is 6-7.50... Top 12 overall advance, with jump-offs if necessary, to 24-person final at nationals.
Thea LaFond (Freshman, Silver Spring, Md.)
Women's Triple Jump - Saturday, 4:30 p.m.
Career-best of 41-8 came with 8th-place finish at ACC Outdoor... Mark ranks 2nd all-time at Maryland behind only Terp Hall of Famer Marchelle Payne (42-11.75 in 1993)... Also broke 41 feet to finish 4th at ECAC Championships... Was 3rd in Eastern Division of Penn Relays with her third 40-foot mark of the season (40-2.25)... Also had season-best of 5-8 in the high jump... Ranked 32nd in East Region and 5th among freshmen... In 2nd of 4 12-person flights of national semifinals, seeded lowest-to-highest... After three attempts, top 16 advance to three-jump final... Top 12 overall advance to 24-person national final.
Amber Melville (Freshman, Westminster, Md.)
Women's High Jump - Friday, 5 p.m.
Season-best mark of 5-9.25 came with 4th-place finish at ACC Championships... Won UCF Invitational to open outdoor season at 5-8... T2nd in Eastern Division of Penn Relays... Maryland Invitational champion... Ranks 6th all-time at Maryland outdoors... One of four Terps who posted top-10 marks this season... T29th on East Region list, but 3rd among freshmen... 48 competitors in national semifinals jump in two pits in Jacksonville... Opening height is 5-5.75... Top 12 overall advance, with jump-offs if necessary, to 24-person final at nationals.
Zack Ray (Senior, Huntingtown, Md.)
Men's 400 Hurdles - First Round Thursday, 4:30 p.m.
Career-best of 50.84 came with victory at IC4A Championships at Princeton... Also won 110 hurdles at IC4A... All-ACC in long hurdles with 3rd-place finish (51.76)... Kehoe twilight champion... All but two marks have been under 53 seconds this year... Ranks 4th all-time at Maryland and one of only four under 51 seconds... Had Terps' best mark since 1978... Seeded 13th in East Region and 26th nationally... In last of 6 heats, seeded randomly, with top 3 per heat and next 9 fastest times advancing to national quarterfinal on Friday at 7:30 p.m... Top 3 per 9-person heat, plus 3 next fastest time in three heats advance to 24-person national semifinal.
Men's 110 Hurdles - First Round Friday, 5 p.m.
Career-best of 13.99 came with win at IC4A Championships earlier this month... Won both hurdle events at IC4As with career-bests in each... Won both Kehoe Twilight and Maryland Invitational at home... Best two marks of the season came at IC4As, with 14.02 in prelims... Finished 5th at ACC Outdoor (14.10)... Ranks 8th all-time at Maryland, with only three marks in the top 10 coming since 1998... Ranks 24th in East Region, 41st overall... In 4th of 6 heats, seeded randomly, with top 3 per heat and next 9 fastest times advancing to national quarterfinal on Saturday at 7:05 p.m.... Top 3 per 9-person heat, plus 3 next fastest times in three heats advance to 24-person national semifinal in Des Moines.
Amina Smith (Sophomore, Lusby, Md.)
Women's High Jump - Friday, 5 p.m.
Career-best 5-10 came with win at Kehoe Twilight meet... Mark ties her for 4th all-time at Maryland... All-ACC with 2nd-place finish at league outdoor meet (5-9.25)... Went 5-8.75 to tie for 4th at ECAC Outdoor... Only two marks under 5-7 this outdoor season... Seeded T19th in East Region and 5th among sophomores... 48 competitors in national semifinals jump in two pits in Jacksonville... Opening height is 5-5.75... Top 12 overall advance, with jump-offs if necessary, to 24-person final at nationals.
Moriah Young (Junior, Columbia, Md.)
Women's Shot Put - Thursday, 1 p.m.
Career-best of 50-3.50 came with win at Kehoe Twilight meet... Also won Maryland Invitational at home... 8th at ACC Outdoor and 7th at ECAC Championships... One of only three Terrapins over 50 feet in shot put, ranking 3rd on Terps' all-time list... Three marks of 49 feet or better this season... Ranked 32nd in East Region... In second of four flights of 16, seeded lowest-to-highest... Three throws for each competitor in flights, with top 16 advancing to three-attempt final... Top 12 overall advance to 24-person final at nationals.
Women's Hammer - Saturday, 2 p.m.
Added nearly 6 feet to her season-best with 3rd-place finish at ECAC Championships, going 184-3... Finished 6th at ACC Outdoor... Seeded 36th in East Region... T2nd with teammate Jessie Echard on Maryland's all-time list behind only Aysha Gregory (185-6 in 2008)... In first of three flights of 16, seeded lowest-to-highest... Three throws for each competitor in flights with top 16 overall advancing to three-attempt final... Top 12 overall advance to 24-person final at nationals.
Kiani Profit (Senior, Pasadena, Calif.)
Already qualified for national final in heptathlon - Thurs. & Fri., June 7 & 8
Seeded 7th nationally with her school-record mark of 5,695 points set with her victory at the ACC Outdoor this season... Her best event in the heptathlon may be the 800 meters, where she has gone 2:10.92 this season... Three-time All-American: 2nd in 2010 NCAA heptathlon (5,682), T2nd in 2011 NCAA pentathlon indoors (4,396), 2nd in 2010 NCAA pentathlon indoors (4,242).
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